crafts · finished objects · Sewing

Vogue 8805: Color blocking and proportions

Pattern: Vogue 8805

Fabric: Linen (pink and turquoise) and Linen/rayon (navy) from SR Harris

Notions: Ambiance lining fabric


I have fallen in love with all the pretty color blocked dresses in the stores right now.  I’d been dreaming of making one, so this pattern (by Vogue) seemed made for me!

I knew that I wanted to use linen.  While I usually would default to ponte for this sort of dress, I don’t like wearing ponte in the summertime (so hot!)  I was also envisioning something like the Kate Spade Hana dress:

I wasn’t wanting a copy (or those pockets – odd placement!) but I liked the breezy feel of the original.   My only initial alteration was to take up the shoulder seams by 1″ total.  This is a common alteration for me – I do it on nearly every pattern.  I apparently have shorter shoulders than average.  I also added a full bemberg rayon lining.  I cut it in two pieces – one for the middle and bottom segments, and another for the top (it was easier this way than taking out that seam.)  The lining is attached at the neck and tacked to the side seams with thread loops.  I fit the lining before making the dress to check for alterations.  I found none, but was displeased with the initial dress:

(Please excuse my expression – I took these yesterday, and I was having a glasses sort of day!)  I felt like the finished dress was a little matronly.  The fit was fine – it’s loose but not too oversized.  The kimono sleeves aren’t bad.  But I felt like the proportions were off somehow.

After a lot of staring in the mirror, I decided that the issue was the turquoise band.  It’s larger than the coral band on the top, and the assymetry doesn’t work for me (is this the golden ratio at work?  I’ve never been good with that!)  I decided that I needed to shorten the bottom piece to be roughly the same size as the top.  This would also raise the hemline, which is a good thing – I follow the rule that the more shapeless the dress, the shorter it needs to be.  I marked a new hem 3.5 inches shorter than the old, and here are the results (also seen in the first photo):

It’s just the way it looked in my head!  Note that the turquoise band is in much better proportion here – it’s about the same width as the coral (including sleeves.)  I cut a size 8 on top (with shorter shoulders) and a 10 at the hips.  It fits really well – not enormous, but it doesn’t cling anywhere.  I’m really glad for the lining, which adds to the cool summer feel and helps with wrinkling (doesn’t eliminate it, but helps.)

Here is the back:

When I sewed the lining to the dress at the neck, I was careful to set the edges of the back slit in a quarter inch so they don’t show.  I hemmed them before attaching to the dress.  The dress is fastened with a brooch in the back.  The patter calls for a hook and eye, but I hate sewing them on and will use almost anything else (a thread loop and button could also be really cute here!)  Even with the slit, it’s still a little tight going over my head.  Keep in mind, I have a giant head (I had to order an extra large for my graduation hat.)  Still, it’s a little small.  It should probably be extended, or alternately you could do a zipper.  It’s also possible that my shoulder alteration is the issue here, and yours would be fine.  It’s hard to say!

I recommend this pattern – it was dead simple, even with adding a full lining.  I do recommend thinking about proportions with any color blocking project.  Even little things like where you place the darkest color can make a big difference!

crafts · fabric · Sewing · travel

Fabric shopping: Chicago, Minneapolis, and Joann’s (?)

I have retrieved my fabric from my in-laws, and I’m ready to talk about the fabric stores I visited on my trip!  I asked for suggestions here, and you were all kind enough to give me the details on the best places to visit.  I made a plan of attack: visit the Textile Discount Outlet, Fishman’s Fabrics, and the downtown Vogue fabrics location on the same day (they are all near each other) and visit SR Harris in Minneapolis.

We drove to Chicago on Wednesday and made it to our hotel (in Schaumburg – I usually stay downtown, but the price was right, and we weren’t staying long.  Note to self: never again.  Other note to self: should you ever move to Chicago, live close to downtown – the traffic is madness!)  We did go to a fun restaurant there – a conveyor belt sushi place.  I wouldn’t say it was the best sushi I’ve ever had, but it was a fun novelty, and really not bad for what it was.  The next day we went downtown to (among other things) visit the fabrics stores.

Textile Discount Outlet – 2121 W. 21st street

I read the reviews of this place saying how huge and messy it was, but I was not prepared.  I think this photo says it all:

Want that fabric?  Be prepared to move a literal mountain of foam!

I actually love places where you have to dig, but I didn’t find anything to buy here.  There is a ton of polyester, and I’m not against that in general, but nothing really appealed to me.  I was also running on very little sleep, so I was maybe not in the mood to dig deeper.  This place is totally worth a visit if you’re in Chicago – there are several floors in an old warehouse that are literally piled with fabrics (I’d say it’s maybe half home dec? Seems like it would be great to visit for that purpose.)

Fishman’s Fabrics – 1101 South Desplaines Street

This store is located very close to the downtown Vogue Fabrics – less than a block I’d say.  The store is clean and well organized – the photo on the website is very accurate to what the store looks like.  There are salespeople eager to help you with your project, and a good selection of interesting trims.  I’ll be honest – I’m probably too much of a bargain shopper to love this place.  The fabric is all lovely, but it’s mostly pretty expensive.  I don’t shop that way, but that’s because I have the time and willingness to scrounge through piles and wait for sales.  I also go through a pretty high volume of fabric, so I like to save money where I can.  If you want a special piece of fabric this would be a great place to shop!  They have a fun collection of articles and memorabilia from their long history in the entryway, and I enjoyed reading all about the history of the place.

Vogue Fabrics – 623 West Roosevelt

I visited the downtown location.  I did not make it to the flagship store in Evanston, but I enjoyed the downtown location.  There is a lot of fabric in this place.  Organization isn’t too bad, but it’s not great either – there are a lot of mystery fabric bolts.  There is a whole room of remnants, most of which are a decent size (enough for a top or short dress.)  This was my favorite of the Chicago stores, although I once again failed to buy anything (as I mentioned, I was pretty tired and coming down with a sinus infection!)  I really wish there had been a better selection of natural fibers – as with most stores these days, there was more poly than anything else.  I wasn’t surprised, because one of my frustrations with the vogue website is how much polyester they carry, but I suppose they know what sells better than I do!  I don’t hate polyester in some forms (knits mostly) but I wouldn’t choose any of its more slippery forms (charmeuse, chiffon etc) because they are so hard to work with.  And yes, that is a poly charmeuse down the page… the price was right and I loved the print, I’m a hypocrite!

So yeah, I left without buying anything – can you believe it? I think I was not in the mood.  But I still had one more stop.  Several days later my husband and I ventured off to SR Harris in Minneapolis (my in-laws live in St. Paul, and it was about a 35 minute drive to the store.)  And this is where I fell in love:

This store is huge.  Seriously, the photo doesn’t even begin to show the size of this store.  It’s basically organized in sections – linens/wools/knits/shirting/knits/quilting/ silks/designer fabrics.  There is a lot of fabric.  It’s not all labeled – some is wound onto reused bolts.  The fabric is stacked in a way that requires some serious muscle power to get out of the stacks!  The best part?  A ton of natural fibers.  Tons.  It was easy to find the area I wanted, though not to find fabrics.  I spent two hours here, and could have taken more time.

Fabric cutting is self-serve, and checkout is on the honor system (you make a tag for each fabric with the price on the bolt and how much you cut.)  All fabric is 50% off the bolt price (I assume this is all the time.)  This makes most fabrics roughly the price you would pay online at a place like fashion fabrics club or  It’s a great deal in my eyes, particularly if you know what you’re looking for!  They have a decent selection of designer fabrics – I saw Donna Karan, Ellen Tracy, Anne Klein, Ralph Lauren, and even a few Milly prints (sadly, not the ones I wanted!)  I didn’t buy any of those, choosing to take my chances in the stacks.  Here is my final haul, along with the patterns I’m considering.

I was able to buy three linens to make my colorblocked shift dress (Vogue 8805).  I plan to make this soon – I love the color combo!

Nice quality matte jersey to make McCall’s 6553.  The color is a deep grey.  I’m fascinated by this pattern, and not at all convinced it won’t look like a giant weird sack (it has a belt through the front only) but I want to try!

This was a mystery fabric – I think it might be a linen, but it was filed with the denims.  I want to make a dress with some chevron stripes – maybe Vogue 8789, which is designed for stripes.  On the other hand, this fabric is a bit on the stiff side – I’ll have to wash it and see how it comes out.

This is a Michael Miller linen/cotton print.  I love the print so much, and want to make a fun novelty skirt using New Look 6872.  This print comes from a collection of Tammis Keefe reprints they came out with a bit ago.  It will need to be lined.

This is a soft batik print.  I thought it was a rayon challis(it was not labeled, other than manufacturer name) but according to the Robert Kaufman website it’s a combed cotton.  Either way it’s soft with a nice drape, and appropriate for clothing.  I ordered the Jade dress from Style Arc along with my recent order, and I think this would be a good fit!  It has a beachy feel, which I like even though I don’t go to the beach (and I love the turtles.)

I also bought this cotton/lycra print.  The pale seaglass green is my favorite shade, and I couldn’t resist.  I’m not sure what I will use it for (a vintage dress I think) but I’m glad I picked it up!

On our way home I went to a Joann’s on a rest break (that’s a long drive!)  They had 50% off clearance fabrics, and they were getting rid of the April Johnson Project Runway line from last year (they have new fabrics – the line looks to be recurring.)  And yes, it’s sad that I ended up buying fabrics there – but I don’t have a real hate on for Joann’s.  For many people it’s their only fabric source, and I really feel like they’ve been trying hard to improve their apparel fabric offerings.  Plus – cheap!  None of this was over $5 a yard, and most was much less.

This fabric looks like lots of tiny eyes staring at you.  Try to unsee that image now!  But I like it anyway, and want to use it to make Simplicity 1803 (I’ve been looking for a fabric all spring for this one!)

I mentioned Burda 7220 the other day.  I want to try it in this fabric, which is a bit lighter than it looks on my screen.  Orange isn’t my usual thing, but I liked this one for some reason – and it’s the same on both sides, essential for the odd hem.

I also picked up this Burda (7204) when I got the pattern above.  Wouldn’t the top from this pattern look nice in a turquoise tie-dye voile?

I got two other clearance fabrics that I don’t have any ideas for – but I’m sure something will come up!


The sequin print is a poly charmeuse, and I know… it isn’t my favorite fabric.  But I think it could make a cute blouse, and I’ve liked it since I first saw it (it was something like $3 a yard.)  The second fabric is a cotton sateen.  I’m considering Vogue 1298, the new Rachel Comey dress.

crafts · patterns · Sewing

Musings: Indie pattern designers

I’ll admit it: I sew mostly with big 4 patterns.  I’m lucky enough to be a standard size, and they are cheap and plentiful here in the US (with pattern sales!)  I’ve made several Colette patterns and a few Burdastyles (though none from Burda magazine or envelope patterns.)   One Jalie pattern, if they count as indie.  But otherwise?  Nothing!  I found a good list of links to smaller pattern designers at A Good Wardrobe.  I’ve spent way too much time today (on my day off) going through the offerings and dreaming of what I could make.  I thought it might be fun to spotlight my favorite designs!

The Miz Mozelle dress from Jamie Christina designs

This vintage inspired dress calls for knits (my favorite!)  I love the bias binding around the keyhole neckline.



Derby and Chelsea by Christine Haynes

Christine is the author of “Chic and Simple Sewing.”  She wanted to launch her own line of patterns, and ran a successful kickstarter campaign to get it started!  These are the first two patterns, and they are brand new releases.   I like both versions of Derby and the right most version of Chelsea (it has a peter pan collar that isn’t quite visible in the print!)


Marita Knit dress and the Demi Drape top from Style arc

Style Arc is an Australian company.  I actually had a hard time picking my favorites, as there are so many fashion forward designs on their site!  The patterns are very well reviewed as well, which is always good when dealing with an unknown (and international shipping!)  I love both designs – they are easy to wear knits, but they aren’t boring.  I’m picturing the top in a solid drape with a contrast stripe knit as the built in camisole, and the dress in a dark jewel tone.

Chloe and Ava from Victory patterns

I really like the look of the designs from Victory patterns.  They’re retro without being too literal, you know?  I can’t decide between these two – I want a striped Chloe and a pretty top version of Ava.

Scalloped hem shorts from PatternRunway on Etsy

Cute, right?  I like the scallops, and they aren’t too much.  I would make these from a suiting type fabric – something with a little drape, not a stiff twill.  I like the fact that they have a side invisible zip, as flies are my worst enemy (Oh, I can sew them, but I always think they look homemade.)  They have welt pockets in the back, which I haven’t tried before, but I might be ready!

The Eva Dress

This dress is a contest winner from “Your Style Rocks,” a website I stumbled across today. The best part? It’s available to download for free!  Love the cowl and side pleating.  I wouldn’t change a thing – this is pretty much my platonic ideal concert dress!

The Cambie dress from Sewaholic Patterns

I’m ashamed to say that I have yet to make a Sewaholic pattern.   I’d like to change that – Tasia is a sweetheart, and I’m so glad to see her success!  I like the version above, in a more subdued fabric.  I have so many sundresses, you don’t know, but I need more officewear!  I love the sweetheart neckline and the wide sleeves.

Finally, I know it doesn’t count as Indie in the least, but I did mention I’ve never made a Burda pattern.  Today I went out and bought my first, and planned which of the magazine patterns I want to make (I’ll use Burdastyle’s downloads – I don’t do tracing.)

I want to make view A of Burda 7220, the version in the lower right corner.  Yes, the mullet top.  I don’t know – I’ve been won over by them!  I almost bought the new vogue that’s similar, but they were out of my size, so I went with the Burda.  I have a turquoise lawn – it would be lovely with a pair of white pants like the model’s, although of course I don’t own any such garment!

I really love the second dress – it’s so mod!  I will use ponte knit.  I have a red for the center stripe, and dark navy for either side.  I’ll plan for this as a fall project, as I know I’m not getting to it for awhile!


WordPress phishing scam warning / book reviews

Just a PSA for anyone else with a wordpress blog.  I got an email today from someone claiming I was using one of their photos with a link to the offending post.  Now, I try not to use anyone else’s photos, but I did click on the link so that I could refute whatever the claim was.  The link took me to a log-in page that looks just like wordpress, which stated that my log-in had expired.   Luckily, I always check the web address before entering my password anywhere, so I caught it in time – the address was certainly not wordpress!  I then changed my password because I was feeling paranoid, and I reported the email to gmail (it was a gmail return address.)

I have this blog, and I’m also the administrator for a self-hosted wordpress blog for my choir.  You get a fair amount of spam or scam emails, but most are easy to spot, as they appear to have been written (poorly) in another language and then sent straight through google translate.  This one was pretty convincing, so I thought I would put out the warning – never give out your password after clicking on a link!

With that out of the way – I’m back from my trip!  We spent a week traveling from Louisville to Minneapolis/St Paul.  I got in some great fabric shopping, and I will have a report for you later – it seems I managed to leave my fabric in Minnesota and my in-laws are bringing it down when they come this weekend!  In the meantime I only have one thing to say – you must go to SR Harris in Minneapolis.  I may have uttered the phrase “this is the best fabric store I’ve ever been to” somewhere in the neighborhood of fifty times.

I got a lot of reading done on my trip – Marc and I listened to books on tape in the car, and I also put my kindle to good use (yes, I have strange sleep habits, so I’m always up reading long after everyone goes to bed on a visit!)  I’m a very fast reader when I put my mind to it – I have been known to actually hit the limit of how many library books you can get.  I don’t buy many books, although the kindle is changing that.  I have the Kindle touch and I just adore it – the e-ink is very easy on my eyes.  I kind of feel like if I wanted a tablet I would buy an i-pad, but I want something without backlighting to read.  I keep meaning to do monthly book reviews, as reading is one of my other major hobbies, so here goes!

(Are you on Goodreads?  Would you like to be my friend?  I review all my books there.)

Soulless by Gail Carriger

This is the first book in a series of steampunk novels.  I will confess that I haven’t read much (read: any) steampunk.  I love steampunk costumes and art, but this is the first book I have tried.  I was joking to my husband that I was curious to see how many pages in the first mentions of goggles or a dirigible would be (page 4 for the goggles, and about 1/3 of the way in for the dirigibles, in case you were wondering.)  Alexia Tarabotti is a spinster in a victorian London (though not our London).  She was unfortunately born without a soul, an idea which seems interesting.  Unfortunately, what it boils down to is that she can make vampires and werewolves lose their powers by touching them.  Yes, I said vampires.  I didn’t know that was coming, but the vampires turned out to be rather delightful (the werewolves were less so, unfortunately).

This book is witty from the very first scene (in which our heroine stabs a vampire with her parasol during a fancy party).  I loved Alexia. Unfortunately, as the book went on it seemed to take a bit of a turn down romance novel way.  Don’t get me wrong – I love romance novels (I have one further down the page) but I don’t love paranormal romance novels, and I didn’t really want one here.  I was a bit disappointed, but not enough that I haven’t requested the second book in the series at the library!

Three Men in a Boat (to say nothing of the dog) by Jerome K. Jerome

I mentioned that I was reading this book before.  My husband was interested in it, so I got the audiobook.  The version I bought is abridged.  Ordinarily I hate abridged books, but I had to get it after seeing it was read by Hugh Laurie (you may know him as Dr. House, but I will always think of him as Bertie Wooster.)  The version I have is here (I got it from audible.)  It is missing some of the funny bits from the book, but Laurie’s narration made it perfect for the car ride – especially as I had been imagining his voice when I read the whole thing!  The book itself is available as a free download in ebook format here.  The book is strange – it’s part travelogue and part comedy of errors.  It’s absolutely readable by modern readers (my favorite bits involve the dog, with the unlikely name of Montmorency).

Over Sea, Under Stone (The Dark is Rising #1) Susan Cooper

One of my Goodreads friends recommended this book to me when I requested books for someone who loved Harry Potter but hated the Narnia books.  I’ve heard of the series, but never read it.  It’s a young adult series.  There are a fair number of similarities to Narnia (bored children in an old house go exploring and find a secret… behind a wardrobe.)  I wouldn’t say it’s similar beyond that though.  The books deal with the Arthurian legends, a subject I have always loved.  The children were delightful, and the book was a very quick read.  I’m looking forward to reading the next in the series.

Goddess of the Hunt by Tessa Dare

I refuse to be ashamed about my love of historical romance novels (have you been to the “Smart Bitches, Trashy Books” site?  Because I love it!)  Admittedly, there is a fair amount of dreck, but there are also so many wonderful authors out there!  (I cannot read modern romance though, nor chick-lit.  Strange, that.)  Julia Quinn is my favorite author, and of course there are always the classics by Georgette Heyer.  I’m always looking for new authors, and Tessa Dare came up in my search.  This is her first novel (she has several others that have been published since.)

I loved the first half of the book.  Lucy, our heroine, is feisty without being anachronistic (a problem sometimes.)  She plans to marry one of her brothers friends, but through a series of circumstances manages to fall in love with another!  I didn’t like the book at all after they got married, as all involved got personality transplants (Lucy becomes frustratingly reticient, and her husband turns into a brooding Mr. Rochester type.)  The first half was really great though, and I recommend it – just end with the proposal!  I will read other novels by this author.

Bossypants by Tina Fey

I listened to the audio version.  I don’t know how the experience would be otherwise, but I loved listening to her read the stories.  I love Tina Fey in general – I think she’s smart, and she she says a lot of things that had me (as an assertive-type lady in her thirties) nodding in agreement.  In particular her experiences at a teen theater camp felt just like my experiences.  My husband loved the book too, but well – it’s possible he might have a type.  Highly recommended!

Night of the Living Trekkies

This certainly seems like a book I would like.  I’m a huge Trek fan, the kind who goes to cons and gets into arguments about the canon treatment of Klingon foreheads.  But I didn’t.  It was, unfortunately, rather poorly written.  One conversation (the one concerning the term Trekkie vs Trekker) is almost verbatim taken from the movie “Trekkies,” and yes I have seen that enough times to quote it.  Quirk books also published the popular “Pride and Prejudice with Zombies,” which I haven’t read.  I have read The Meowmorphosis, in which Gregor Samsa (in Kafka’s Metomorphosis) turns into an adorable kitten rather than a bug.  I loved that one – recommended if you were also forced through that particular extended allegory in school.

That’s it for my trip!  I’m currently working my way through these books:


It’s my second try for Jonanthan Strange and Mr Norrell, a modern novel written in the style of Dickens.  It’s super long, and I couldn’t get into it at first.  I got the audiobook and it’s much better – the text is very conversational, and I think I might listen to all 900 billion hours of it (did I mention it’s a very long book?)  A Game of Thrones is much better than expected.  I always want to like fantasy, but mostly I get bogged down in remember all the names and complicated faerie politics and such.  This is about politics of course, but it’s enjoyable.  And no, I haven’t seen the show, and I don’t intend to until I read all the books!